Show goes on after lights go off at Islington theatre

A MASSIVE power cut at the King’s Head Theatre did not stop a plucky troupe of actors from putting on their first-night show – even though they had to perform by candlelight.

The lights went out at 6.30pm on Wednesday at the theatre in Upper Street, Islington - just 45 minutes before the curtain was due to go up on the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta HMS Pinafore.

The power ended up staying out for five hours, but the nine-strong cast of young singers – who have been described as a “spunky little troupe” – insisted that the show must go on.

So with 20 candles stuck on chairs, and with foil underneath to reflect more light, the actors took to the stage – as the 100-strong audience all stayed to cheer them on.

HMS Pinafore director John Savournin cheekily described the atmosphere as “electric”.

He said: “This ended up with a really authentic performance as Gilbert & Sullivan used to be performed by gaslight. People said they saw the show in a new light.”

Adam Spreadbury-Maher, artist director at the King’s Head Theatre, which was recently relaunched as London’s Little Opera House, said: “Often in the theatre, you are presented with these kinds of problems. But opera has existed a lot longer than electricity – and the music, the story, the singing is so good that you don’t really need the kinds of tricks that electricity can bring. It was really beautiful.”

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HMS Pinafore, which pokes fun at the Royal Navy to satirise the snobbery and hyprocrisy of the 19th-century English social system, premiered in 1878 at the Opera Comique in London.

It went on to become librettist WS Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan’s first smash hit, with a run of 571 performances.

* HMS Pinafore is showing at the King’s Head Theatre in Upper Street, Islington, until December 8.